Alive Vet Honored Among War Dead
DETROIT (AP) _ Etched in the black granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the nation’s capital are the names of 58,132 U.S. soldiers killed or missing in action during the Vietnam War. Darrall Lausch wants his name off that list.
″I think it should be removed, seeing as I’m still living,″ Lausch said Monday.
Lausch, 41, of the southwest Michigan community of Baroda, has been listed on the wall since it was built in 1982, but he found out about his presumed death through a magazine article on Sunday, the fifth anniversary of the memorial.
His name was listed in the magazine with nearly 2,600 Michigan dead. Because his hometown was listed as ″unknown,″ his name was placed at the end, where a relative spotted it.
″An ex-sister-in-law called,″ Lausch’s wife, Pam, told The Detroit News. ″She said. ’Let me tell you something kind of funny.‴
Mrs. Lausch then bought the magazine at a store and showed it to her husband.
″At first we chuckled,″ she said. ″Then we thought we should check it out for future benefits.″
″First thing I did was ask one of the kids to pinch me,″ Lausch said. ″It takes a while to sink in. But I’m here, and that’s all that matters.
″Anybody can make a mistake - even the system.″
Lausch twice was wounded in Vietnam but was discharged about one year after the Pentagon said he was killed in action. The inscription on the monument, misspelling his name as Darrell, indicates Lausch died in battle on Nov. 19, 1966.
The National Park Service said the names of two other men, both from Virginia and both alive, also have been mistakenly placed on the memorial.
There also have been misspellings, but the mistakes can’t be removed from the wall, according to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation.
″The way it looks now, a mistake was made, and he was listed incorrectly,″ said Liz Tate, who processes memorial names for the department of the U.S. Army.
Tate said it was unlikely that Lausch was confused with another Lausch because the name carries his proper service number.
″It can’t be removed from the memorial,″ Tate said. ″They haven’t found a way to remove it from the granite. They would be taking a chance of messing up the names beside it.″
Margaret Adams of the office of the National Archives said information on Lausch was incomplete, including no cause of death, date of birth, religion, hometown, corps area, years of service, race or marital status.
″I know they have worked over the data base a great deal to verify accuracy,″ Adams said. ″So they must have had some kind of evidence to verify.″
She also checked a separate Army list to see whether Lausch’s name was among the dead.
″He’s on it,″ she said. ″Private first class. Died while missing in action. He was correctly listed as Fourth Infantry Division.″
Lausch always figured he’d take his wife and two daughters to the monument someday to look for the names of two hometown buddies. Seeing his own name will be ″different,″ he said.
It also may rekindle thoughts of a conviction Lausch held during his year of combat.
″I always knew I’d make it back alive,″ he said.